Sam has been living in the forest since his parents were killed and his brother taken because of what they were—unicorn shifters. He hasn’t approached the wolf pack living nearby because he doesn’t know if he can trust them, but when he meets a wolf at the stream and realizes they’re mates, he knows he will have to get over that distrust.
Frederic didn’t expect to meet his mate in the forest where the pack lives, and he certainly didn’t expect his mate to be a unicorn shifter. Sam is, though, and he comes with complications and problems—and Frederic is willing to take them all on.
Sam is wary and doesn’t know how to trust, but he hopes having the pack’s help means he can finally look for his brother. He doesn’t know where to start, though, so using himself as bait for the men who killed his parents sounds like a good idea.
Until it doesn’t.
Sam trotted toward the stream. His mouth was dry, and he wanted to take a bath, but the stream wasn’t deep enough for that. He’d have to settle for getting his hooves and mouth wet he supposed, maybe his belly. He was also hungry, though, so he couldn’t stay long. He’d noticed some nice grass in a clearing just off the stream. If he was lucky, he’d leave this place with his belly full and cleaner than he’d been in a while.
He resisted the urge to jump into the stream, but he did walk into it. The water felt good against the skin above his hooves. He dipped his nose into the water, ignoring his reflection, and wiggled it. He huffed, creating bubbles, and finally drank.
Where had this stream been in the past years? He couldn’t remember it, yet he knew most of the forest he’d been roaming. It would be hard not to. It had to have been at least a year since he’d lost his family.
A pang of pain made him close his eyes. He shouldn’t think about that. It wouldn’t help. If anything, it would make things worse for him. It always did, because then he started thinking bad thoughts, like that maybe he should have died with his parents, or that he should have been taken with his brother. Actually, he wished that last bit had happened, but he suspected he wouldn’t have been left with Toby. There could only be a few reasons why Toby had been taken, and it would no doubt have been more lucrative for his kidnappers to separate them if they’d been together.
But they hadn’t been. Sam had escaped into the forest, and when he’d gone back home—
No. he wasn’t going to think about that. He wasn’t sure what was happening today that he couldn’t stop thinking about the past, but it was never a good thing. He had to focus on eating and drinking, and on deciding where he was going to spend the night. The house was probably too far, but maybe he could at least head that way. He could be there tomorrow and spend a few days before he had to go back out to find food again.
A sound made him look up, his heart beating faster. He prayed it was a bunny, or maybe a squirrel, but of course, he wasn’t that lucky. He never was.
A wolf was standing on the other side of the stream, staring at Sam. It didn’t move, and it wasn’t threatening, but that didn’t mean it wouldn’t try to eat Sam, so Sam stepped back.
The wolf rose on its hind legs and became a man.
Sam was used to shifters—he was one after all, just like his entire family had been—but that didn’t make the shock easier to deal with. The fact that a wolf shifter was there meant he’d strayed too close to town and the pack that lived close by. He couldn’t afford anyone knowing about him.
“Don’t leave. Please,” the wolf shifter said. He raised his hands and showed them to Sam as if that would be enough for Sam to know he wasn’t dangerous.
But he was. Men, people, always were. That was one of the reasons Sam’s parents had kept their family isolated. They would have been torn apart and used otherwise—and they had been.
“I’m not going to hurt you. God, you’re beautiful.”
Sam resisted the urge to preen. He knew he was gorgeous in his shifted form. His kind always was. That wasn’t why they were hunted, of course, but it didn’t mean he wasn’t proud of it, especially after living in the forest on his own for so long.
“Can I come closer?” the wolf asked.
That was enough to snap Sam back to reality. He should have been more careful. Who knew what was going to happen to him if the pack found out he was in the forest? He could imagine it all too well. They’d capture him and lock him up, use him and make him miserable. He might not have a lot to be grateful or happy for in his life, but he was free, and that was something, even though he wished he were dead sometimes.
“I promise I won’t hurt you,” the wolf said.
Sam couldn’t believe him. The only people he would have believed were either dead or gone, and he couldn’t afford to risk his life, no matter how much he longed for human contact.
It had been so long since he’d heard another person talk, since he’d last been touched. He wanted his mother’s caresses back, his father’s gruff voice back. He wanted to allow the wolf to cuddle him and to tell him everything was going to be okay.
Instead of staying where he was and giving the wolf a chance to touch him, he turned around and galloped away.
His heart was racing, and not because he was running. He’d been close to the pack, too close—closer than he’d ever allowed himself to come since his family had been destroyed. What did it mean? Was the pack going to hunt him now that they knew he was there? He’d probably encroached on their territory, so they’d be in their right to do so. They could come into the forest and hunt him, and he wouldn’t be able to do anything. He couldn’t even defend himself, not against wolves. He wasn’t a predator.
He was prey. His entire family had been, and things hadn’t gone well for them. He didn’t want to think about it, but he doubted things would go well for him, either.